“Mike Brown didn’t start a movement, he just unified and galvanized this movement,” KaLisa Moore of the People’s Power Assemblies told an amped up crowd in downtown Brooklyn Sunday, Aug. 9.
Watching television news this week, one might think the nation was put in a time machine as images of police and demonstrators clashing appeared on the screens on the one-year anniversary of the police shooting of Michael Brown. Commemorating what many consider the murder of Brown in 2014, protesters took to the streets of Ferguson, Mo., Sunday and were soon clashing with police. Also on the minds of the protestors were Sandra Bland, Raynette Turner, Eric Garner and the nearly 1,100 other people who have died at the hands of police since Brown’s death.
Monday, reports of a shooting between police and demonstrators resulted in the hospitalization of 18-year-old Tony Harris, who police say shot at them. Police shot back, injuring Harris. He remains in the hospital in critical condition.
Harris has been charged with four counts of first-degree assault on law enforcement, five counts of armed criminal action and one count of discharging a firearm at a motor vehicle. Family members say that he was not carrying a gun and was participating in the protest peacefully.
“From what I heard, he was there with some friends and they had a confrontation,” Harris’ father, Tyrone Harris Sr., said to local media. “They start shooting at the friends, and he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
In total, 23 arrests were made Monday night into early Thursday in Ferguson. Among those arrested was noted Black scholar Cornel West during a protest at a federal courthouse. Black Lives Matter protesters DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie were also among those detained.
Organizers say that the reason for the demonstrations is to emphasize that not much has changed in relations between police and Blacks in Ferguson since Brown’s shooting.
Brown’s killer, former police officer Darren Wilson, was never charged in Brown’s death. However, the U.S. Justice Department found in its investigation that the Ferguson Police Department had a disturbing pattern of racist police practices. In an interview with the New Yorker, the now millionaire (via fan donations) said he was just doing his job and had no remorse.
“The mentalities displayed by leadership in Missouri demonstrate how devalued Black people are in America,” said diversity expert and author James Devin. “The leaders pretend to be concerned about the issues impacting the Black community. However, they refuse to listen to the needs of the community or make any significant changes. Rather than acknowledge systemic racism exists and try to understand why residents were offended by their actions, the leaders often defended their actions and denied any wrongdoing,”
A state of emergency was called in St. Louis County after reports of alleged looting and attacks on law enforcement.
“The recent acts of violence will not be tolerated in a community that has worked so tirelessly over the last year to rebuild and become stronger,” St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said in a statement.
Brown’s family remains vigilant to make sure demonstrations remain peaceful. Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., led several memorial protests over the weekend. Esaw Garner, the wife of Eric Garner, killed by an NYPD officer, was in attendance.
The St. Louis County NAACP hosted a commemoration event. Organizers say city leaders and law enforcement will discuss progress made in the community since last August.
“It’s a day to remember what we have done and how far we’ve come and how far yet we have to go,” said Esther Haywood, president of the St. Louis County NAACP.
“My family and I are truly humbled by the level of support that we received over this weekend,” Brown said on social media. “Our marches were all done very peacefully. So please be careful, mindful and protect yourselves from those who would like to see this be unsuccessful.”
Locally, the Black Summer Coalition commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Ferguson uprising Sunday in front of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The coalition includes the organizations Africans Helping Africans Fight Imperialism, Stand Together, Millions March, People’s Power Assemblies, Shut It Down NYC and Why-Accountability. Just before they marched to the major shopping thoroughfare off Fulton Street, speaker after speaker denounced the unchecked police brutality and urged protestors to stand their ground, know their rights and record any and all hostile police-community encounters.They chanted “Shut It Down for Mike Brown.”
Labeling cops “the pit bulls of gentrification,” Shannon Jones of Bronxites for NYPD Accountability encouraged the crowd. “If they make a perimeter around you, make a perimeter around them!” she exclaimed.
She told the crowd that they have to stand up against police harassment and police brutality. She applauded the will of the protestors. “As we celebrate the ending of complacency, the ending of ignorance, the ending of the get down,” she declared, “we are standing up and rising up, and we will not stop!”
After announcing the weekly Monday evening mobilization at Grand Central Station, Jones added, “We hold NYPD accountable all day.”
“The violence at these demonstrations comes solely from the police,” said KaLisa Moore of the People’s Power Assemblies. “It is dire for the safety of the Black and Brown community that the NYPD not attend. No one is safe when the police are allowed to run rampant and use deadly force with impunity.
“Mike Brown did not die in vain, because here we are 365 days later with a full list of victims. They are killing people even faster than they were last year. And do you know why that is? Because this movement is working. They would not be attacking us, if we weren’t being effective.”
Moore declared, “What we are doing right now is winning, and now they have to find any way to silence us. Sandra Bland was an activist, and they found out what she stood for and they silenced her. But every time you take one of us out, thousands more will spring up.”
Anita Neil, mother of Kyam Livingston, who died in a holding cell at Brooklyn central booking in 2013; Juanita Young, mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was shot in the head while struggling with narcotics officers in 2000; Nicholas Heyward Sr., father of Nicholas Heyward Jr., who was shot by police while playing with a toy gun in 1994; and other families of victims of police killings and their supporters joined demonstrator in a vigil, protest and march to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Brown’s death. The gathering took place Sunday at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building in Harlem.